Last month a rose-loving friend of mine came by to visit my garden and pick up a few extra roses that I wanted to get rid of but send to a good home. After a fun tour of the garden and lots of rose talk, she encouraged me to go to the Greater Palm Beach Rose Society’s spring rose show that was being held in a few weeks. I was hesitant, but decided I would wait and see what the garden provided the weekend of the show and if I felt I had something nice, I would go ahead and participate.
A few weeks later, the garden was booming. Its been the best year for roses in my garden. After so many years, so many struggles and lots of learning, I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of this rose growing business. By Thursday afternoon, I started walking around looking at what might make good candidates for the rose show. I quickly started getting excited and even a little nervous, but the garden provided, so I went forward.
That Friday morning I got up early and grabbed a big bucket filled it with water and Chrysal (flower preservative) and got cutting. I’ve never done a rose show before, but I knew I should cut stems as long as possible, focus on the most perfect flowers and leave anything that was deformed, small or was passed its prime. The show flyer my friend had sent me in the mail had indicated there would be ten categories in the competition as follows:
- Class 1 – Hybrid Tea, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
- Class 2 – Fully Open Hybrid Tea, one bloom per stem, with stamens showing
- Class 3 – Old Garden Rose one stem, one bloom is at exhibition stage for that variety
- Class 4 – Shrub Rose, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
- Class 5 – Climbing Rose, one bloom per stem at exhibition stage
- Class 6- Old Garden Rose floating in bowl no foliage permitted
- Class 7 – Floribunda, one single bloom, or a spray of at least two blooms, at exhibition stage, on one stem
- Class 8 – Shrub Rose Spray, one stem of at least two blooms, at exhibition stage
- Class 9 – Spray Rose – One stem with a minimum of 2 blooms at exhibition stage. Any class or variety of rose, except shrub or floribunda, may be entered
- Class 10 – Most Fragrant Rose, one bloom per stem, any class or variety
Knowing this I kept an eye on which roses would work well for each category and cut accordingly. The roses immediately went inside my air conditioned home and were kept safe out of reach of children and small animals (our 2 dogs). I would have kept them in the refrigerator, but there were no room for my blooms in there, so no luck. The next morning I woke up bright and early for one last walk through the garden to see if there were any more contestants for the show. I grabbed a few more entries and headed for the show.
The rose show was being held at Mounts Botanical Gardens; a beautiful and well-maintained garden, which alone is well worth the visit. Some of the roses didn’t hold up very well and were left on the cutting room floor, while others looked even more beautiful when I arrived in Palm Beach about an hour later.
For category 1, Hybrid Tea, I ended up bringing a couple of Chrysler Imperials; only one of which could be entered, as only one entry of each variety is allowed. I brought 2 large Toro blooms that were quite impressive, and one Peace bloom, which really was not up to standard, but alas. It ended up looking rather pathetic next to the others in the end, but this was all in good fun either way. You live, you learn.
For Category 2, Hybrid Tea Fully Open, I brought a fully opened bloom of Pink Peace it was very pretty, but the stem was not very long and in the end it was just dwarfed by some of the bigger, longer blooms. I could really see now why long stems and big healthy leaves make such an impact.
For Class 3, Old Garden Rose, I brought a few stems of Duchess De Brabant but did not enter any. My bush was in full bloom and had provided many nice options for me to choose from, so I took a few to decide on the best one once I was there. I ended up entering my largest bloom into the floating bowl category (class 6).
For Category 4 Shrub Rose, I had many entries, as shrubs are my specialty and my favorite kind of rose to grow. I brought a very large and very beautiful blossom of Princess Alexandra of Kent, which was a huge surprise because my bush has never provided much in terms of extraordinary blooms. I also entered one very nice, large bloom of The Ancient Mariner, and one bloom of The Endeavor, that was really passed its prime, but was still very pretty.
In class 5 Climbing Rose, I brought a beautiful bloom of Colette (albeit somewhat small) and a very large and somewhat messy bloom of Papi Delbard. The winner ended up being a large and beautiful bloom of Don Juan, which is no surprise as Don Juan is very impressive.
For category 6 Old Garden Rose In a Bowl, I was planning on using Duchess De Brabant as I was unsure if Austin roses would be counted as OGR’s or as Shrubs. As it turns out they are counted as Shrubs. I almost didn’t enter this category as I was torn between category 3 or floating the bloom in a bowl. At the very last minute I floated it in a bowl because there were only 2 other roses in the category. It did look very pretty. This must have been the correct choice as it ended up winning best in show!
For Category 7, I brought a spray of Sunflare and then ended up accidentally entering it in the wrong category. (More on that later)
In Class 8, I had 4 entries. I entered a small spray of Sweet Drift, a large spray of The May Flower, and an even larger spray of The Fairy (the winner!) I also accidentally entered my spray of Sunflare into this category when it should have gone in the class above since it is a floribunda (oops).
For category 9, I had no entries
For class 10 I had a few entries. I entered Grande Dame, Princess Charlene De Monaco (which did not win, but did get a lot of attention) and Beverly. All of these were very fragrant and held their fragrance well. I really enjoyed this category, as going around smelling all the entries was my favorite part of the show. In the end Double Delight took the prize and it was well deserved.
This was an informal rose show. They did not have official ARS judges. Roses were judged by the visitors who came to observe them and casted votes for their favorites by putting beads into a cup for each category. This had its benefits in that it was a lot less stressful for me as a first time participant. It made it much more relaxing and fun. However, I was a bit disappointed in that I didn’t get to learn how the real judging works, nor did I get to meet any real ARS rose judges. That being said, I don’t think rose growing will ever be that formal down here in South Florida, so it may not be a bad thing. There just is not enough interest in this amazing hobby and I plan to change that, even if it’s single-handedly. But there were still so many amazing things to come out of this rose show that I will be sure to return every year.
Not only did I have a wonderful time at the rose show, I got to explore the gardens, take in a pruning demonstration and even joined the Greater Palm Beach Rose Society. Winning my first rose award was exciting, but the most exciting experience of it all was meeting people who were just as passionate about growing roses as I am.